DALLAS – It was billed as a shootout and it lived up to the hype but PVAMU fell on the wrong end of the scoreboard as Grambling State claimed a 70-54 decision in the 90th annual State Fair Classic at the Cotton Bowl before 50,000-plus spectators.
The first quarter was full of big plays as the Tigers needed only one play to score first as Chad Williams caught an 83-yard pass from Johnathan Williams less than 20 seconds in. The Panthers would respond on their opening drive as they marched 75 yards in 10 plays as Nick Pitre caught an 8-yard pass from Trey Green. Once again, the big play would haunt the Panthers on their next possession as a special teams blunder allowed Martez Carter to break free for an 88-yard return for a touchdown en route to a 14-7 lead following the PAT.
PVAMU punted on its next drive and Grambling State needed only five plays to score once again as Williams and Lovett Gibson connected on a 19-yard touchdown reception. The PAT was successful as GSU jumped ahead 21-7 to end the scoring for the first stanza.
PVAMU’s next drive came to an untimely halt after a GSU interception at its 16 and the field goal unit failed to convert a 52-yard field goal on the ensuing drive after receiving the ball back via a punt early in the second quarter. Grambling State responded on its next possession with an 8-play, 65-yard scoring drive as Williams found Chester Rogers for a 51-yard touchdown strike with 12:34 left in the half.
Down 28-7, the Panther offense rolled up its sleeves and went to work as they marched down the field in 11 plays to draw within 28-13 points as quarterback De’Auntre Smiley rushed in from four yards out. Both teams traded punts from that point but GSU found itself back on the board late in the quarter as Williams connected with Carter on a 29-yard touchdown reception for a 42-20 lead following the PAT.
Prairie View A&M would add some excitement late in the half as Demarquo Lastrappe outjumped double coverage in the end zone for a 52-yard touchdown reception from Green. Owen Hoolihan’s PAT sailed through the uprights as PVAMU trailed 42-27 with 23 seconds remaining.
Hoolihan’s squib kick on the ensuing kickoff nearly landed back into the hands of PVAMU but GSU claimed the kickoff at the 50. Instead of running clock, Williams opted to pass and was picked off by Damond Jackson who returned the interception 32 yards to the GSU 32. With only nine seconds remaining, Green found Pitre for a 35-yard strike to stop the clock at the GSU 2 and after two PVAMU timeouts, Smiley entered the game and hit tight end Tommie Robins for a 2-yard toss and a 42-34 deficit entering the half following the PAT.
Johnta’ Hebert returned the opening kickoff of the second half 59 yards to set up solid field position but PVAMU turned the ball over on downs on the GSU 17 after the turf monster stopped a potential long play from Pitre. GSU added two more scores in the quarter to pull away 56-34 but PVAMU would cut the lead to 56-42 early in the fourth quarter on Raymond Jackson’s 4 yard toss from Green. The Panther defense held down the fort and forced a GSU punt and the offense would respond with a huge 10-play, 69-yard drive which culminated with a 2-yard run from Smiley and a 56-48 deficit due to a missed PAT.
With the momentum back in PVAMU’s corner, it quickly moved away in a matter of seconds as Martez Carter busted through the wedge on the kickoff and raced 100 yards for the touchdown and a 63-48 lead. After the kickoff, PVAMU’s next drive resulted in a turnover on downs and GSU punched it in from 10 yards out on the next drive to lead 70-48. PVAMU added a late score from Green to Rayshaun Givins for the game’s final score as GSU claimed its second straight win over PVAMU.
The Panthers finished the game with 580 offensive yards while GSU amassed 556 total yards. Green passed for 414 yards and four touchdowns on 29-of-55 passing while Hebert rushed for 83 yards on 11 attempts. Pitre led all wideouts as he finished with 115 yards on six receptions and a touchdown. Senior linebacker Brandon Medina led the defense with 11 tackles followed by seven from Shafique Neloms.
Prairie View A&M is back in action next weekend as they’ll host University of Faith at 1 p.m. inside Waller ISD Stadium.